Tracking Airpower in the AOR

Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown, commander of US Air Forces Central Command, keeps a chart in his office at al Udeid AB, Qatar, that he calls an EKG chart. The lines go up and down, like a heart monitor, tracking the amount of aircraft deployed to help in the fight against ISIS. There are peaks and valleys, as aircraft from the Air Force and coalition partners deploy to the area of operations and return back home. Currently, despite B-1s returning to the US and Canadian F-18s leaving, the coalition has a peak of aircraft assigned to the fight, Brown told Air Force Magazine at AWS16. This includes the US aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman and French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. However, this peak won’t last—the French carrier is slated to leave the fight soon with the Truman to follow, Brown said. Currently, Brown said he isn’t “overly concerned” about the B-1s being gone from the area of operations even though the aircraft set record numbers in the amount of ordnance dropped in the fight against ISIS. There are “valleys” ahead where the coalition will have fewer aircraft, and the service needs to plan ahead with the larger Air Force and coalitions to ensure enough assets are available. “We turn back to the force, and if there’s going to be another valley, we want to make sure we are prepared,” Brown said. The Air Force has surged to address shortfalls in the past, such as US European Command moving F-15C/Ds and F-15Es to Incirlik AB, Turkey, to help in the fight and also assist Turkey, Brown said.